Considering social accountability in rehabilitation therapy school



As you know, there is increasing attention in
social accountability concept for medical
and other health professional schools. Despite the
uniqueness of the concept of social accountability,
it has different definitions in various fields. The
World Health Organization (WHO) has described
social accountability generally as follows: “the
obligation to direct education, research and
service activities toward addressing the priority
health concerns of community, region, or
nation”(1). Applied to health professional schools,
the idea of social accountability recognizes it’s
prospective for transforming community by
acting throughout the educational, research
and healthcare delivery, on a mixture of social
determinants of health factors and for helping
to make a proficient and equitable health system.
One of the health professional schools in
Shiraz University of Medical Sciences is the
School of Rehabilitation Therapy. This school is
committed to lead and stimulate positive changes
that improve quality of lives through rehabilitation
education, research and practice. As part of this
commitment, the mission of this school is to teach
occupational therapists, physiotherapists and
physiotherapy scientists who contribute to wellbeing
and welfare of the community. This school
is recognized for excellent social accountability.
In a qualitative study, we developed the
indicators for assessing the concept of social
accountability in this school based on the extensive
literature review and expert opinions. Finally,
57 indicators were determined for assessing the
social accountability and used for assessment of
social accountability in this school (2).
The results showed that considering the
healthcare needs of the community for education
and research, provision of interdisciplinary
education for students, addition of the idea of
social accountability in the accreditation system,
teaching professionalism to students before the
clinical courses, and cooperation with other
stakeholders (including academic health centers,
physician communities, and other relevant
paramedical schools) were reported as some of the
strengths of this school. Some of the weaknesses
of this school were lack of continuous evaluation
programs for precise analysis of the current
needs of the society and lack of correspondence
between some of the elective training programs
with the accountability approach. What’s more,
the willingness of the community to participate
in the health programs, lifestyle changes and
change in the public approval for services in
educational fields are some of the existing trends
in this school.
It seems necessary that social accountability
concept of rehabilitation therapy schools should
be further taken into consideration as a means
of improving the outcomes of rehabilitation
education, research and services.
In conclusion, all health professional schools 

should contribute to the needs of society by
educating their students well in this field. Through
accomplishment of these aims, these schools can
play the maximum effective role in the health of
the community.

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 P ISSN: 2322-2220            E ISSN:2322-3561      

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